Russia Monitor

Putin Tempts Europe with a New “reset” Policy

Written on 07/03/2018

  • Thanks to such moves as simulating reforms in the country and promising his Western partners to improve diplomatic relations, Vladimir Putin clearly wants to gain time as he has currently no other choice due to Russia’s poor economic situation and apparent lack of success on the international arena. Russian President finally took advantage of the inauguration of his new term in order to limit the country’s aggressiveness.
  • Putin’s “reset” strategy consists of two potential options. According to the maximalist plan, Russian President will strive to persuade United States President Donald Trump to conduct talks with the aim of bridging the gaps between the two countries. As for the minimalist one, it envisages an attempt to reset relations with Europe. Undoubtedly, Putin will count on a thaw in U.S.-Russia relations but he would also be satisfied with better relationships with Europe.
  • Russian President’s plans are additionally fostered by such factors as a trade policy conflict within the transatlantic community, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project and nuclear deals with Iran. In this context, the United States can be perceived in terms of Germany’s main opponent, and the Kremlin seeks to improve its relations with Berlin. Nevertheless, Moscow is now facing a way more difficult task, which consists in convincing France to cooperate.
  • The Kremlin aims to build within European Union a coalition of opponents of sanctions imposed on Russia. In the first weeks of the new term of office, Putin paid special attention to enhance his country’s relations with such countries as Germany, Austria and Bulgaria. The Russians also hope for further development of the political situations in Spain and Italy.
  • Moscow will be also the main beneficiary of the U.S. exit from Iran deal. For the first time since 2003, Russia and part of the EU countries could be found on one side of the barricade against the US in the key problem of international security. Further developments in this matter may be crucial for the results of Putin’s “thaw” strategy.
  • Russia will neither accept any concession nor will it recognise its guilt on such issues as the annexation of Crimea, the war in Donbas, supporting murders of many civilians in Syria, interfering in democratic processes of other countries or downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17; in such a way, Moscow will never gain more Western “friends” as it has managed to “befriend” Germany and a small group of other countries.
  • Putin’s policy of warming relations with the West and, at the same, abandoning his war rhetoric to the benefit of cooperation seems to be rather tactical and periodic. Without any major breakthrough in the matter of sanctions or relations with Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin will be sooner or later forced to accept the reasons of the “party of war” and thus return to the policy of aggression.